|Re: MTA projects 2012 surplus, but deficits to follow (264326)|
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Re: MTA projects 2012 surplus, but deficits to follow
Posted by Gold_12TH on Thu Jul 26 03:32:47 2012, in response to MTA projects 2012 surplus, but deficits to follow, posted by Gold_12TH on Thu Jul 26 03:25:03 2012.MTA Unveils Preliminary 2013 Budget
The plan is “risk-laden.” The finances are “fragile.” And if the economy falters, do not count on a supple rainy-day fund.
This, officials said, is what optimism looks like at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
In a proposal that board members have greeted as a welcome contrast to the deep service cuts in 2010, the authority released its $13.1 billion preliminary 2013 budget on Wednesday, less than a week after announcing its plans to expand and restore some service amid a sunnier fiscal picture.
Myriad caveats, though, applied. During his presentation to board members on Wednesday, Robert Foran, the agency’s chief financial officer, emphasized the authority’s long-term vulnerabilities to economic uncertainty, employee and retiree health care costs and pension costs, among other concerns.
“I believe we can manage,” Mr. Foran said, “if all the things fall in place.”
Joseph J. Lhota, the authority’s chairman, said that he was pleased the budget could be balanced in the near term, and that he was “more optimistic” about the agency’s economic viability than he was when he began his job in January. But even as ridership revenues have increased, Mr. Lhota said he worried about the “long-term trend in our expenses.”
“The M.T.A.'s underlying cost structure is increasing for reasons that are beyond the authority’s control,” he added, “so we are depending on all stakeholders’ coming to the table to find ways to address those areas that we can control.”
The authority has cited some savings estimates that appear hard to predict, including an expected $22 million in annual savings resulting from attempts to curb fare evasion on buses.
The authority also hopes to cut the costs of its transit operations for disabled riders, estimating more than $230 million in annual savings by 2016. Expected changes include an initiative to give free MetroCards to users of Access-A-Ride — which offers prearranged trips, often door-to-door, to disabled New Yorkers for $2.25 — as an incentive to ride standard buses or subways instead. Access-A-Ride costs the authority about $60 per trip, officials said last month.
One budget linchpin is an expected fare increase, scheduled for March and expected to generate $450 million a year in increased revenue.
In November, the authority’s board will see an updated budget forecast, and in December, it will vote to adopt the budget.
Though some public speakers at the agency’s board meeting on Wednesday argued against a fare increase, many more came to thank the agency for the proposed service changes, including a permanent extension of the G train to Church Avenue in Brooklyn and a new bus route along the Far West Side of Manhattan.
Even this round of endorsements gave Mr. Lhota pause.
“When you get laudatory comments like that,” he said later, “there’s only one place to go from there.”
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